Ossett Town 1 - 2 Clitheroe
After the mauling the previous week at the hands of Stocksbridge, it was gratifying to see normal service resumed away at Ossett Town, who had been the season's dark horses.
By Chris Musson
With the return of Gareth Roberts after suspension to partner Danny Brady and newcomer Ian Rowlands in a familiar Back 3 formation, things looked instantly more solid. With James Walker back from injury and Robbie Bromley off the bench in the wing back positions, the team's attacking credentials were also secured. In addition, seeing the familiar figure of Tom Williams, the Pocket Rocket, on the bench warmed the fans hearts.
In what was an even tussle, Clitheroe almost took the lead after 3 minutes, when a wicked Inswinging corner from Walker found the head of Rowlands, but the ball thumped against the post. It was almost poetic when five minutes later, the home team took the lead again from a corner. Chris Thompson did not make full contact with his punch to an outswinging corner, and as the ball returned into the box, Ossett scored a scruffy goal.
However, the good travelling contingent did not have to wait long for parity. Another Walker corner caused mayhem, and when it fell to Dimitri Tuanzebe, he was initially dispossessed but he scrapped to get the ball back, and when the ball was put back in the box, skipper Brady headed the ball looping over the keeper into the net.
Ten minutes later, Ossett went close as a cross from the left was headed back narrowly beyond the post. Harry Pratt, who would shortly go off injured, had a good chance as he muscled his way through on 27 minutes, but saw his stinging shot parried for a corner. One minute later, good Clitheroe interplay saw the ball laid to Joe Mitchell, but he ballooned his shot over. Alex Newby and Brady had further half chances, but the half ended with Clitheroe just shading matters.
The first ten minutes of the second half were a cagey affair, until the game sprang to life as Tuanzebe ghosted beyond the defence and as he approached the box he was bundled to the floor. The referee had a long chat before brandishing red.
This heralded sustained pressure from the away team. On 68 minutes, Tuanzebe jinked down the left, feinted and then continued his run leaving the defender for dead, before crossing only for sub Brad Knox unable to steer it home. Newby, having his best game for several weeks was at the heart of most action, and he had several half chances of his own making.
The points were finally secured on 83 minutes when Walker drove down the left flank, brushed aside the challenges and drove a low cross into the danger area. Several deflections later, Tuanzebe found the ball at his feet 6 yards from the goal line and he gratefully walked it home.
The Blues received a rapturous reception at the end from the travelling fans. Character is only forged in adversity, and this side passed its first serious test of character. The games and firer tests now come thick and fast.